Media buzzwords seem to come and go all the time—some of them stick, but most of them do not. So when a new idea, like theInternet of Things (IoT), pops up, it is hard to know if it is an idea that will last or another marketing ploy.
One idea that is collecting a lot of steam in the building design industry isbiophilia. This is the idea that buildings should be designed to mimic nature, because human beings function better when they are in tune with the natural world. So, is this a permanent trend in building design or just the latest fad?
Elements of Biophilic Design
The idea behind biophilia is to bring elements of nature into a harmonious relationship with interior space. This includes plant installations—such as green walls—, water features, accessible views of nature, and diffuse natural light. Exposure to the sights, sounds, and other stimuli humans are exposed to outside provides a range of benefits for employee health and productivity.
Views of nature and exposure to the natural shift of light throughout the day are shown to both reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. Light which changes consistently also helps to maintain the body’s circadian rhythm, which helps toprevent insomnia and seasonal affective disorder. Additionally, both plants and water features help to improve indoor air quality, while the sound of running water works to decrease stress.
Another major effect of design based around biophilia is that it improves employee productivity. A study in Cardiff, Wales, found that one office building that integrated natural elements experienced a 15% increase in productivity over three months. Another study by the Heschong Mahone Group states that exposure to natural light couldincrease productivity by 6-16%. Other studies from around the world have found that scenes of nature, natural colors (such as blue, yellow, and green), and the presence of plants, natural light, and water can all increase employee productivity.
Reduced Energy Use
Because biophilia relies upon using nature in building design, it is unsurprisingly extremely sustainable. Plant and water features naturally filter the air and help to regulate internal temperature, reducing a building’s need to rely on HVAC systems. Additionally, well-designed natural lighting minimizes heat gain and loss, while providing free illumination throughout the day and reducing lighting and HVAC costs by 50-80%